Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Divinyls - Desperate

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Desperate, the debut studio album from the Australian band Divinyls. This 1983 peaked at number 5 in their native country early in the year before hitting the world-wide scene months later.

The group actually formed in 1981 and provided music for the soundtrack of Australian director Ken Cameron's 1982 film Monkey Grip; the band even appeared in the film. The roster of the band at the time consisted of Christina Amphlett (vocals), Mark McEntee (vocals and guitar), Bjarne Ohlin (vocals, guitar and keyboards), Richard Harvey (drums) and Rick Grossman (bass).

The Australian release and the International release of Desperate have differences in content and order. For today's review, I will go with the latter as it more widely known. This is also the version that can be found up on Spotify, if you want to give it a listen for yourself.

Side one begins with "Boys in Town" which was the band's first single from 1981; it went to number 8 in Australia. The song has a strong guitar riff and drumbeat that drives it. The album title comes from the chorus here, where Amphlett sings “…I must have been desperate…”

"Only Lonely" is up next. The singer questions getting involved with a guy who clearly does not want to be intimate with her. She feels lonely even when they are together.

"Science Fiction", the second single, hit number 13 in Australia. The lyrics reflect a book-nerd who discovers love for the first time and decides to throw them away for real life drama.

The third single "Siren (Never Let You Go)" stopped at number 45 in Australia. McEntee hares the vocal lead on this rapid-fire tune about a couple who is totally enraptured by one another. This one easily is my favorite from the first half of the record. I love the energy.

"Elsie", the B-side to the third single, is a dark tale of a young woman who uses suicide as a way out. The musical arrangement really sets a powerful mood and features an extended instrumental bridge.

Side two opens with "Only You", the B-side to the debut single. This one is about a couple who clearly have a love-hate relationship that is swinging quickly to the one side.

On "Ring Me Up", a girl regrets her break-up and desperately hopes her former lover wants to get back together again. I like how Amphlett modulates her vocals in time to the guitar rhythms.

"Victoria" is an obsessive ode, given a Sapphic spin with Amphlett as the lead singer. As this one shows, not a lot of words rhyme with that particular name. See if you can guess which one they use before you listen to the song.

"Take a Chance", backed by a haranguing rhythm and vocal delivery, is all about moving out of one’s comfort zone and living life, taking risks, and seeing where it all takes you.

The album closes with "I'll Make You Happy", a cover of a 1966 hit by the Australian band the Easybeats. This one also served as the B-side to the second single. You would never have known it was a song over fifteen years old; the band does a great job bringing the sound squarely into the 80’s rock scene.

I knew the Divinyls from some of their later 80’s work (particularly the song “I Touch Myself”). However, this was my first listen to Desperate, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It really rocked. For me, the record was a blend of Missing Persons and Pat Benatar, two acts whose music I have always enjoyed. This one has quickly topped by to download list (I’ll likely have it in my collection long before this post goes up, since I work months in advance on the blog).

1 comment:

HERC said...

"Ring Me Up" was in a Sixteen Candles. You 'member?